City of the Month: Budapest

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A panoramic shot of the Danube
A panoramic shot of the Danube

Budapest is one of the most underrated cities to visit as a student. The Hungarian capital may not be the place you automatically think of when planning your next adventure with uni friends but it has everything you need: amazing nightlife, beautiful buildings, a rich historical background, and even Turkish baths!

Flights and accommodation are a bargain, especially when compared to other European hotspots like Paris, Barcelona or Venice. Decent hostels can be as cheap as £8 a night, with flights available for around £70, so if you want an exciting trip on a strict budget, Budapest is the city for you.

The nightlife, although not as renowned as that in Prague or Barcelona, is vibrant and varied. With a huge range of pubs and clubs, and a range of festivals (from jazz to wine to dance) there’s always an exciting night out happening. The quirky Szimpla Kert, the oldest “ruinpub” in Budapest, is definitely worth a visit for a pub unlike anything you’ve seen before. However, unlike other cities, the nightlife isn’t all that Budapest has going for it. If you’re a budding architect Budapest is fascinating, with a huge range of striking buildings ranging from the Roman ruins to the handsome, neo-gothic parliament building on the riverfront. Part of the charm of the city is just wandering, as the city is small enough that you can reach most places you want to go by foot. There are heaps of walking tours (including some free ones), and loads of free sites and attractions like the stunning Heroes Square and City Park (and The Museum of Fine Arts & The National Museum have free entry on the third Saturday of the month), so there is always something cheap to do within walking distance.

Buda Castle
Buda Castle

The thermal baths are a deep-rooted tradition of the city, and well worth a visit. Budapest sits on thermal springs, so these baths date back hundreds of years and are a historic part of the city. The entrance price depends on the bath you visit, but are reasonable prices and at some you can stay for the entire day.

The Várkert Bazár, or Royal Gardens Bazaar, is also worth a visit. They were renovated and reopened in spring 2014, and are a must see. The complex, located by the Royal Palace, was built in the late 19th Century, with the aim of creating a cityscape at the end of the Royal Palace in Buda to rival the one on the other side of the river, in Pest.

On a rainy day there is a huge range of museums, from the House of Terror (a museum exhibiting material related to the dictatorial regimes in 20th Century Hungary) to the Budapest Pinball Museum, and a whole host of art museums.

Whether you want to take a walk up to Castle Hill or Fisherman’s Bastion, or have a picnic by the Danube, Budapest is full of beautiful nooks and crannies and really does have something for everybody.

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Cat Lady and journalist. Ex-records editor (2014-2015) over at The Edge, and South West Regional Officer for the Student Publication Association.

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